See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Updated: Charlotte Loonsfoot sets up new camp on Yellow Dog Plains to protest sulfide mine

MARQUETTE -- KBIC (Keweenaw Bay Indian Community) tribal member Charlotte Loonsfoot, accompanied by family and friends, has returned to the Yellow Dog Plains to pray, gather berries, fish and camp in protest against the Kennecott Eagle Mine.

During the KBIC Maawanji'iding (Pow wow) in the Ojibwa Campground, Baraga, on June 24, 2010, Charlotte Loonsfoot spoke with Keweenaw Now about her plans for the new camp on the Yellow Dog Plains. Support from family and friends is making it a reality now. Loonsfoot is pictured here in her regalia, including a symbolic blue shawl. The Women's Movement for the Water is now promoting blue shawls to help spread awareness about protecting the water. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"On Sunday (Aug. 1), after the walk to Eagle Rock we set up camp on the Yellow Dog Plains," Loonsfoot says. "It is a new camp to bring awareness to the world of how sulfide mining in the Great Lakes is going to pollute our fish, wildlife, and people. We are going to fish, hunt, and gather on our Ceded Territories of the Anishinaabeg people. We will be learning how to live off the land like our ancestors did before we were moved to reservations. By having this camp we are continuing our presence in opposition of the Kennecott Mine. We will not give up fighting to protect our water. Come join us to help preserve the health and safety of our future."

On May 27, 2010, Charlotte Loonsfoot and Chris Chosa were arrested for trespassing on state land and treaty-protected ceded territory. Kennecott, working with local law enforcement, removed the camp structures and community garden and fenced off public access to Eagle Rock, an Anishinaabeg (Ojibwa) sacred site. Kennecott continues to strip off all trees, plants and topsoil on several acres around Eagle Rock.

This photo of Eagle Rock, taken Aug. 1, 2010, shows Rio Tinto - Kennecott's berms and fences that now surround this Ojibwa sacred site, where the company plans to put a sulfide mine for nickel and copper.

Along the AAA road, heavy trucking has impacted travelers attempting to access area waterfalls, fishing holes, private camps and blueberries. Kennecott security heavily monitors the area near the fenceline.

Fellow campers from Minnesota intend to maintain a presence on the Plains while monitoring activity in the area.

Says Rorie, "We are hoping and praying that the people responsible for making the decision to mine this sacred land turn their actions around. We encourage people from across all walks of life to come together to protect the land and water that sustains us all."

Cynthia Pryor of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve says Charlotte Loonsfoot's camp site has been donated by June Rydholm and her family for the camp's use -- so this is private land and is well off the road, 1/2 mile east of the entrance to the mine.

"(Charlotte) is a courageous woman who feels the need to be out there and is asking others to join her -- for an hour, an evening, a night, a week or however long they can," Pryor writes in a message sent today, Aug. 6. "It is a very beautiful camp site under jack pine, with a wonderful overlook of the Panarama hills to the south of the Plains. The site is also within walking distance of the Yellow Dog River and a great swim/fishing hole. Blueberries abound. She is keeping a sacred fire so the need for wood is paramount. She has plenty of staples but fresh/frozen meats, fresh vegetables and fruits are very welcome. Ice (block) and coffee are also on her list."

To reach the camp look for a CLEAN WATER - YES, SULFIDE MINING - NO banner on the south side of the AAA road 1/2 mile east of the mine gate. Drive in and park along the two track road. You can drive right to the camp to unload wood and supplies, and there is a turn-around area.

Campers are making this "blueberry leather" by mashing the blueberries and spreading them out to dry on bark into tough "leather," which will last for a long time. (Photo © and courtesy Eeva Miller)

"I spent the last two days and nights with her and her son Virgil, along with an individual from Oklahoma, who says the Yellow Dog Plains is the most beautiful place he has ever been," Pryor adds. "Some folks from the north shore of Minnesota spent most of this week with her helping set up camp, tarps, cutting wood, etc. They have all gone home now, so do think hard how you can help."

Jessica Koski of New Warriors for the Earth (NWE), the group that hosted the Third Annual Protect the Earth events last weekend, said NWE is in support of "anyone who camps for the greater cause as long as it is peaceful, non-violent and alcohol and drug free."

For more information on the encampment, visit or call 906-228-4444.

Update: After a visit to the camp on Friday, Aug. 6, Eeva Miller of Marquette reports Charlotte would like more visitors and the campers' wish list includes the following: wood (most important item), five-gallon or larger water containers, tools to split wood (awl, wedges, axe, sledge hammer, big bow saw), rope (1/2-in. or 1/4-in.), wood stove, walkie talkies, canvas-walled tent for cold weather living quarters, meat, ice, milk, eggs, butter, good peanut butter.

Editor's Notes: Watch for our articles and stories on Protect the Earth, coming soon.

Setting it straight: This article originally mentioned that the Minnesota campers were members of S.T.O.P. (Stop Toxins and other Pollutants). We have been notified that was an error. Rorie and friends are working independently.

Church to hold huge Rummage Sale Aug. 7 in Hancock

HANCOCK -- The First United Methodist Church in Hancock will hold its 19th Annual Rummage Sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7.

This huge sale will include everything from household items to children's toys and books to cookbooks, videos, furniture and sports and exercise equipment.

The church is located at 401 Quincy Street, next to the former Hancock Middle School.

Editor's Note: The sale will be going on at the same time as Hancock's Tori, the farmers' market on the lawn of the school building. Pick up some fresh veggies while you're there! The Tori is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Houghton, Keweenaw counties choose candidates in Aug. 3 Primary

By Michele Bourdieu

HOUGHTON, EAGLE RIVER, MICH. -- In both Houghton and Keweenaw counties, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero defeated Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon in the Aug. 3 Democratic Primary Election, despite a relatively low voter turnout. The following are unofficial, draft results until canvassing is completed.

Virg Bernero, Democratic candidate for governor of Michigan, gives his victory speech. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Virg Bernero. Reprinted with permission.)

Bernero received 946 votes to Dillon's 729 overall in Houghton County. In Keweenaw, the northernmost Michigan county, Bernero received 104 votes to Dillon's 75.

In the Republican Primary race for Governor, Houghton County gave Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox the most votes -- 1015 -- compared to 945 for Rick Snyder of Ann Arbor, who was declared the Republican Primary winner in a close contest. Keweenaw County Republican voters also gave Cox the most votes: 114 as opposed to 101 for Pete Hoekstra and 84 for Rick Snyder.

In Houghton County only 22.75 percent of the registered voters, Democrat and Republican, turned out to vote in the Aug. 3 Primary. Keweenaw County reported an average of 38.6 percent of registered voters. Allouez Township, which has the largest number of registered voters -- 1259 -- had the lowest percentage of people voting -- 27 percent -- while Eagle Harbor Township, with only 257 registered voters, had a voter turnout of 55 percent.

Keweenaw County Commissioner Don Keith (R-Eagle Harbor), a candidate for 110th District State Representative, received 91 Republican votes from Eagle Harbor Township in his total of 181 votes from Keweenaw County; but Matt Huuki (R-Atlantic Mine) received a total of 193 votes in Keweenaw.

In Houghton County Huuki received 2277 votes to Keith's 684 votes.

Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) defeated Democrats Robert Black and William Doan in both counties. Keweenaw County gave Dianda a total of 162 votes, while he received 1247 votes in Houghton County.

Dianda will face Huuki in November for the State Representative position now held by Mike Lahti (D-Hancock).

Lahti ran unopposed for the 38th District State Senate position. Republicans in Houghton County chose Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) with 2617 votes over Jeff Paulin's 273 to run against Lahti in November. In Keweenaw County, Casperson received 284 votes to Paulin's 45.

Gary McDowell (D-Pickford), the lone Democratic candidate for Bart Stupak's position of First District Representative in Congress, received 1485 votes in Houghton County and 151 votes in Keweenaw County. Stupak decided recently not to run again for the position he has held for nearly two decades.*

Among several Republican contenders for First District Representative to Congress, Dan Benishek received the most votes in Houghton County: 1883. Keweenaw County Republicans gave Benishek 223 votes -- also the highest number among the Republican candidates. (The others were Jason Allen, Patrick Donlon, Linda Goldthorpe, Don Hooper and Tom Stillings.) In other parts of the district the race is being contested since Benishek's and Allen's results were very close.

The Detroit Free Press stated on Aug. 4: "According to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Web site, political newcomer and Tea Party candidate Dr. Dan Benishek of Crystal Falls led state Sen. Jason Allen of Alanson by a single vote, 27,091-to-27,090. The Associated Press’ tally had the difference only a little larger -- Benishek led by 12 votes out of some 71,000 cast."

A recount is possible to determine which Republican candidate will run against Gary McDowell.

*Editor's Note: See our Apr. 9, 2010 article, "Stupak announces decision not to continue in Congress."

Updated: First Friday in Calumet to offer art, music, fun Aug. 6

By Michele Bourdieu

Painting and Sculpture Composite Image, McCafferty-Rudd Artworks. (Photo courtesy Margo McCafferty and Tom Rudd)

CALUMET -- First Friday in Calumet, Aug. 6, will include art exhibits and activities in three galleries.

Vertin Gallery to host McCafferty-Rudd Artworks

Artists Tom Rudd and Margo McCafferty will exhibit their Artworks collection of painting and sculpture from Aug. 6 to Sept. 1, 2010, at the Vertin Gallery in Calumet. Tom Rudd, sculptor, and Margo McCafferty, painter, create work informed by their wooded surroundings with frequent reference to the omnipresent environmental crisis, especially as it relates to the quality of water. Besides their individual works, the two artists have found collaboration rewarding.*

An opening reception will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 6, in the Gallery at 220 Sixth St., Calumet. Refreshments will be served.

Ed Gray Gallery: A. Kenneth Koskela

Beginning on First Friday, Aug. 6, the work of A. Kenneth Koskela will be featured at Ed Gray Gallery in Calumet. Koskela, a Laurium native and World War II veteran, creates colorful images touched with whimsy. Many of his pieces are reminiscent of his childhood in the Copper Country.

Koskela’s passion for painting began at age twelve. His early work reflected the architecture and nature which surrounded him. Soon after, Bosch and Brueghel affected his imagination and inspired his fantasy.

Koskela finds that lines in ink coupled with transparent watercolor best capture detail and spontaneous creation.

"As I paint, my mind travels freely through time/space and to the depths of my own inner space and I see the universe, the earth, millions of people, nature, annals of history and even the sovereign world of cats," he says.

He currently works from his home in North Carolina .

Copper Country Associated Artists to offer Art of Mehendi (Henna)

Kanak Nanavati of the Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAA), and friends, will demonstrate the Art of Mehendi (Henna), its history and application from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 6, in the CCAA Gallery in Calumet. The demonstration is free and open to the public.

Visitors can learn to apply a design to hand, arm, etc. Mehendi is a body art especially done on palms, hands and feet of a woman on special occasions in India. The Art of Mehendi has existed for centuries, but it was very prevalent during the 20th century. This ancient art is also well known in Middle Eastern countries, Egypt and North Africa.

Mehendi, when worn for celebration of special occasions like weddings, is usually a very intricate design done for a bride-to-be as a special person and for other relatives and friends with more simple designs.

The CCAA Gallery is located at 112 Fifth Street in Calumet.

"Backroom Boys" to play jazz, swing, more at Conglomerate Café

Beginning at 8 p.m. on First Friday, Aug. 6, the "Backroom Boys" will return to the Conglomerate Café to play some of your favorite tunes. Bob Norden on trombone, John "Lefty" Munson on tenor sax and piano and Oren "Curly" Tikkanen on guitar and six-string banjo will play music that ranges from New Orleans to Helsinki and all points in between. Bring your dancing shoes!

The "Backroom Boys" play jazz, swing and other danceable tunes at the Conglomerate Café in Calumet on July 2, 2010. Musicians are, from left, John Munson, Bob Norden and Oren Tikkanen. They will return to the Café this First Friday, July 6, for an evening of music, dance and fun beginning at 8 p.m. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"Madame Babette, the warm-hearted but tough-minded Café proprietor, has promised to have an ambulance on-call in case any of these fierce but music-loving old men fall victim to the Spirit of Swing -- and she will have a full array of home-baked pastries, fine coffee and licensed beverages on hand for your refreshment," says 'Curly' Tikkanen.

The Conglomerate Café is at 104 Fifth St., Calumet.

Update: Photos by Eric Munch at 5th and Elm Café

Photographs of Calumet taken from 1973 to 1984 by photographer Eric Munch will be displayed at 5th and Elm in Calumet for the month of August 2010. They are part of the long-term documentary of the town Munch has been doing since the early 1970s.

The earliest image, never before displayed, was taken by Munch at age 16. It shows a freight train leaving the Ninth Street depot at sunset, with familiar church steeples on the horizon. The most recent photo is of the demolition of the Italian Hall in October 1984.

Munch's family can be traced back to Calumet to his third great-grandfather Joseph Munch, who arrived in 1868; although born in Ann Arbor, Eric has lived in Calumet for 30 years. Its people, architecture and landscape have fascinated him since his first visits as a child. He started his photography business, Photography by Eric Munch, in 1983, and specializes in Weddings and Special Events, High School Graduation Portraits, commercial photography and images of artists' work for their portfolios.

The 5th and Elm Café in Calumet is open seven days a week. For further information please call 337-5084.

*Editor's Note: See our June 2, 2010, story, "Artists McCafferty, Rudd create, teach, join Keweenaw community" to learn about Tom Rudd and Margo McCafferty and their many talents.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Updated: Photos: Portage Lift Bridge, Aug. 4

Photos by Gustavo Bourdieu

Update on Thursday, Aug. 5: We have received word the Bridge is advising maritime traffic, that there will be no further attempt to lift the bridge for marine traffic to pass until at least 6 p.m. this evening. The bridge is open to auto traffic while repairs are still being made.

Traffic barrier holds back cars on the Houghton side of the Portage Lift Bridge on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 4, 2010. The movable, center section of the bridge could not be lowered to the street level on the Houghton side, stopping traffic from both sides of the bridge for several hours. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Gustavo Bourdieu for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON, HANCOCK -- Keweenaw Now photographer Gustavo Bourdieu was caught in the halted traffic caused by the problem with the Portage Lift Bridge this afternoon, Wednesday, Aug. 4. He managed to park in Houghton, walk downtown and capture a few views of the bridge and the traffic.

This photo shows the faulty center section of the bridge, which normally lifts to allow large boats to pass under the bridge and then descends to street level. Today, Aug. 4, the Houghton (south) side of this center section could not be lowered normally.

A small boat passes under the bridge while traffic is still halted.

Traffic heading north, backed up on Shelden Avenue in Houghton for nearly three hours, begins to move again about 5:25 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 4.

This photo was taken looking south on Shelden Avenue from the Houghton Post Office on the right, as traffic backed up on U.S. 41 begins to move again once the bridge problem is solved, earlier than predicted.

Update -- Editor's Note: A brochure from MDOT (Michigan Dept. of Transportation) lists information about community resources available during a bridge emergency such as this one on Aug. 4. Internet sources listed are and Radio stations to consult are WOLV 97.7 FM, KBEAR 102.3 Fm and WCCY 1400 AM. Television: WLUC TV6. Keweenaw Now will also attempt to keep readers informed as we receive news. The brochure is available in the City of Hancock office.

Traffic now crossing Portage Lift Bridge

HOUGHTON -- The problem with lowering the Portage Lift Bridge seems to have been solved at about 5:25 p.m. today, Wednesday.

"Cars are crossing from both sides of the bridge," said Gustavo Bourdieu, Keweenaw Now photographer, who has been parked on the Houghton side of the bridge for about an hour.

Watch for some photos.

Updated: Portage Lift Bridge stuck; traffic congested

By Michele Bourdieu

HOUGHTON -- As of 4:30 p.m. TODAY, Wednesday, Aug. 4, the Portage Lift Bridge is stuck for the second time this week. The Daily Mining Gazette reports that it may not be repaired before 7 p.m.

Keweenaw Now photographer Gustavo Bourdieu is presently parked in a line of traffic on the Houghton side of the bridge. He said he would report updates.

If you are heading north on U.S. 41 toward Hancock or south toward Houghton, be advised that you cannot cross the bridge at this time. It is better to avoid the traffic congestion and stay where you are until the bridge is repaired. Lucky you if you have a boat!

The Daily Mining Gazette is also posting updates.

"For the second time in two days, the Portage Lake Lift Bridge got stuck in an elevated position Wednesday afternoon," the Gazette reported Wednesday afternoon. "Sometime between 2:30 and 3 p.m. the bridge went up and cars began to wait. At 4 p.m., with lines of cars stretching in all directions on M-26 and U.S. 41, authorities began to have people turn their cars around."

The Gazette article also reported that on Tuesday, Aug. 3, the bridge was stuck for half an hour. The problem was blamed on a broken electrical switch.

Update -- 5:15 p.m. -- Houghton City Police Chief John Donnelly said shelters are being set up on both sides of the bridge, the Gazette reports. Shelters in Houghton are at the Copper Country Mall and the Student Development Complex at Michigan Technological University. In Hancock they are at the Apostolic Lutheran Church on Quincy Hill and the Houghton County Arena.

Bay Ambulance of Baraga is helping Houghton with emergency services.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Joe Kirkish offers words for love of language

By Eric Rosenberg*

HOUGHTON -- On one of his last days at Michigan Technological University, a graduating physics student who wanted to pay his respects approached Joseph Kirkish, who was at the time a professor in the Humanities Department at Michigan Tech.

Joe Kirkish, retired Michigan Tech professor, movie critic and photographer, in a pensive mood. (Photo © and courtesy Joe Kirkish)

Kirkish recounted that the student told him, "I’m graduating so now I can tell you: I think you’re a terrific teacher. There’s only one problem I found in your movie class, and that is you use big words all the time."

Kirkish said he was fairly surprised when he heard this.

"I said, 'Big words?'" Kirkish reported. "'I cut my vocabulary in half at least. What big words do you mean?'"

The student's response was, "I remember one -- intimidate. What does that mean?"

This exchange would stay with Kirkish and would later inspire an idea for his current project, a word-of-the-day e-mail list.

For the past two years, Kirkish has sent out a daily e-mail to a mailing list of people from all walks of life -- from fraternity listings to businessmen. These e-mails consist of a word, a definition and an example from a current news source. The words themselves can range anywhere from seldom-used terms, such as xenophobia (noun: an unreasonable fear or hatred of that which is foreign or strange), to downright esoteric (adjective: not commonly known) terms, such as fungible (adjective: interchangeable).

It’s a simple idea, but the word of the day format takes time.

"I spent about an hour last night going through The Week magazine, finding some things that I can use in the future," Kirkish said in reference to a recent research binge.

When looking for materials for his messages, Kirkish also dives into current editions of various newspapers and magazines to find relevant examples to keep the word topical. To read these, however, Joe finds it beneficial to remove himself from civilization.

Joe Kirkish spends hours researching newspapers and magazines for his vocabulary offerings, using contemporary news sources for the context. (Photo © and courtesy Joe Kirkish)

"When I go through the papers, I head out to a cabin, where I can see Lake Superior and I can only really hear the motorcycles that go by," Kirkish said, to describe the seclusion (noun: solitude) he finds so useful in sussing out (verb: to investigate, discover) good vocabulary words.

Kirkish doesn’t really produce these missives (noun: written message) out of altruism (noun: giving without expecting something in return).

"There’s no such thing as altruism," Kirkish explained, "because even if you give your life for somebody, you’re giving it pleasurably, knowing that it’s going to do some good."

In other words, you always derive (verb: receive or obtain from a source) some sort of pleasure from the act. For Joseph Kirkish, that pleasure is twofold. Knowing that he’s helped someone, at some level, to expand his or her vocabulary and experience is a part of the pleasure.

"If other people pick it up, if other people trip over it, then I’m happy with what I’ve done," Kirkish said.

The other part?

"Words are so beautiful," he added.

And, for the record, intimidate is a verb that means "to fill with fear."

Joe Kirkish can be reached at, if you find yourself curious as to what the word of the day may be.

*Editor's Note: Guest reporter Eric Rosenberg is a student in David Clanaugh's summer journalism class at Michigan Tech. This is Rosenberg's second article for Keweenaw Now. See also his July 16 article, "Lake Superior Day commemorates the Great Lake July 18."

Keweenaw Krayons supporters invited to meet Aug. 5 in Mohawk

MOHAWK -- Carol Rose, Keweenaw Krayons founder and current director, is soon to retire and will be leaving the area. While she will remain on as consultant, she will not be present in Mohawk to oversee the day-to-day happenings of this successful non-profit organization that brings art and culture to both children and adults in the Keweenaw Peninsula.

With a Strong Organization/Strong Youth (SOSY) Award from Great Lakes Center for Youth Development (GLCYD) Keweenaw Krayons is creating a sustainability plan. This award has made it possible to enlist the consulting services of Barbara Rose. With her help, the Keweenaw Krayons Board is renewed and ready to move forward.

To do that, the organization is inviting all interested persons (adults only, please) to help envision Keweenaw Krayons’ future in an important get together from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 5, at Horizons School, Mohawk -- home of the Keweenaw Krayons Art Center.

Refreshments will be served to fuel creative thinking. Please RSVP by calling Keweenaw Krayons at 337-4706. (Voice Mail is fine, but please leave your full name and phone number or email:

The Strong Organization Strong Youth (SOSY) Program is made possible by a Compassion Capital Fund Demonstration Program Award Great Lakes Center for Youth Development received from the Office of Community Services, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Early election results: Bernero declared gubernatorial winner in Democratic primary

From Ed Brayton of the Michigan Messenger:

Several news outlets are already declaring Virg Bernero to be the winner of the Democratic primary. With 11 percent of the votes in, he leads Andy Dillon by a 58-42 margin.*

... As of 8:45 p.m., with about 5 percent of precincts reporting, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is leading House Speaker Andy Dillon by a 60-40 margin.

With about 4 percent of precincts reporting, the GOP primary is fairly tight. Rick Snyder leads with 34 percent, Rep. Pete Hoekstra is at 30 percent and Attorney General Mike Cox is at 26 percent. ...

Update 10:26 p.m.: Pete Hoekstra has conceded the (Republican) race to Rick Snyder. No word yet from the Cox campaign, but with 45 percent of the precincts reporting Snyder continues to lead with 37 percent of the vote. Hoekstra is at 26 percent and Cox at 24 percent.

* Editor's Notes: Both the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News are declaring Virg Bernero the winning Democratic candidate for governor. Click here for the Free Press article "It's Snyder vs. Bernero in November showdown for Michigan governor."

Visit the Michigan Messenger for more updates.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Portage Library's future depends on Aug. 3 millage vote

After giving a presentation titled "Water, Life, and Industry on the Keweenaw," on July 29, 2010, at the Portage Lake District Library, Larry Lankton -- author, historian and Michigan Tech University professor -- signs his new book, Hollowed Ground: Copper Mining and Community Building on Lake Superior, 1840s – 1990s, for Phyllis Kruse, right, of Aura. The opportunity to meet authors is just one of the Portage Library's many free events open to the public. Also pictured, center, is Chris Alquist, Portage Lake District Library Community Program director. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

From Shawn Leche, director, Portage Lake District Library

HOUGHTON -- We are at a crossroads. On August 3rd, voters will be asked to vote on the library millage. Why is this important? The future of the library depends upon the outcome. Why is the library important and what is its place in the community?

Historically almost all towns had a few central components which comprised their towns however small they were: police, public library (often Carnegie libraries), fire station, swimming pool, doctor, public school, and a bank. The library is so much more than just what one thinks of in terms of a traditional library. We are a Lending, Learning, and Community Center. We are a cultural crossroads where the entire community participates.

The Library offers the following:
  • Free access to the latest books, magazines, and newspapers
  • Free use of computers and the Internet
  • Access to Michigan's MEL Library and our new Mango, foreign language database
  • Children's story hours and educational activities
  • Teen section
  • Diverse and multiple community programs
  • Free use of the community room
  • Opportunities to hear and meet authors
  • Reference services, help with homework
  • And over 10,000 interlibrary loans processed a year
  • Art and Commerical Films are shown
  • Live musical entertainment is provided
All this for an average of $5 to $7 dollars a month to our township residents. The presence of a library speaks loudly about the civic and cultural commitment of its citizens. Statistically it is found that for every $1 you invest in your library, you receive $2-$4 in return to your community. I can't think of a better bang for your buck.

Irrespective of your position, I urge all citizens to vote this August 3rd and not to take their vote for granted. Every vote counts.

Editor's Note: The Portage Lake District Library serves the citizens of the library district -- the City of Houghton, Chassell Township and Portage Township. The library also checks out materials to fee-paying individuals and families from outside of its district. To learn more about the Portage Library, visit their Web site at

Letter to Editor: Vote "Yes" to Portage Library Millage on Aug. 3 ballot

From Suzanne Van Dam and Alex Mayer

On August 3rd, please vote YES to the library millage and support one of our most valuable community assets, the Portage Lake District Library. Our library is so much more than just a book check-out service. It is a vibrant community hub.

For young children, our library offers story hours and summer reading programs that get them fired up about reading and ready for school. Elementary students can meet experts from wildlife rangers to authors and can join the summer reading program.*

Middle and high school students can hang out in the teen section, access teen and pre-teen fiction books and magazines, and keep reading during the summer and school holidays. (Research shows that students who read over the summer retain or even surpass their grade level performance, whereas students who don’t read in the summer experience significant drop-off in academic achievement). Furthermore, through inter-library loan, our library offers resources that home-schoolers and public school students alike can use to enhance book reports, science fair projects, and research papers.

But the library isn’t just for children. It also caters to adults, offering art and music venues, book readings, free use of a community room and free access to the Internet. Web access is crucial for many seniors and others on a fixed income, as it allows them to access their email or the Internet, receiving help from library staff and other patrons -- help they would not be able to get at home alone. Evening educational programs offer adults a chance to learn about everything from tax preparation to tree pruning.

In addition to educational benefits, the library also strengthens our community economically. Libraries generate jobs, both directly and indirectly; they level the playing field by giving low income residents free access to information and technology; and they provide free materials and services that individuals would otherwise have to pay for out of pocket. In a recent study, it was found that "Wisconsin Public Libraries are a significant driver of Wisconsin's economy, contributing more than three fourths of a billion dollars to the state economy on an annual basis, and returning a benefit of over $4.00 to taxpayers for each dollar spent, both of which are in fact conservative estimates."

So, on August 3rd, do the right thing -- invest in our children, in our community, and in our future by voting YES to the library millage proposal.

*Editor's Note: Keweenaw Now often promotes the Portage Library special events as well as the Summer Reading Program. See our slide show from 2009 and the recent article by Samantha Stauch about the Summer Reading Program and Portage Lake District Library Community Program Director Chris Alquist.

Bernero Calls for cleaner, greener energy following Michigan oil spill

LANSING -- Lansing Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero says the oil spill in Battle Creek and the Kalamazoo River is another reminder of why Michigan and the nation needs to reduce its dependence on oil and invest in cleaner, greener energy to move forward.

"We’ve seen on TV what happened to the Gulf; now it’s hit us here at home," said Bernero in a press release dated July 28. "Our current leadership has done nothing to stop the oil and gas companies from having free range on our land. It’s time to put limitations and better safety precautions in place to protect our water and our land. These types of disasters are 100 percent preventable."

Bernero criticized current leadership, including his opponent, Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, for sitting on House Bill 4487 introduced by Rep. Fred Miller (D-Mt. Clemens) that would end unfair tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. The bill, which has languished in the House for the past three terms under Dillon’s leadership, would end the special tax rate loopholes enjoyed by the oil and gas industry.

"It’s unconscionable to put the interests of the oil companies ahead of the people of Michigan, Bernero said. "We must demand more from our elected officials to protect our precious natural resources."

Bernero's pro-environment stance and his agenda for Greening Michigan's Future have earned him endorsements from Michigan Clean Water Action, Michigan League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and the Michigan Section of the Sierra Club. He has also earned endorsements from the Michigan Education Association (MEA), the American Federation of Teachers Michigan (AFT Michigan), the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA), the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) and the Michigan AFL-CIO. *

*Editor's Note: Visit Virg Bernero's Web site to learn more about his ideas for green energy and sustainability.

Click here to read articles on this oil spill in the Kalamazoo River.

Democratic candidates state views as Aug. 3 Primary Election approaches

HOUGHTON -- Local voters can read statements from the Democratic candidates running for State Representative, 110th District, (the position now held by Mike Lahti, who is running for State Senator, 38th District) on Lift Bridges and Mine Shafts, a progressive blog hosted by the Houghton County Democratic Party.

The blog also includes statements by Houghton County Prosecutor Michael Makinen and Pamela Dobbs, Houghton attorney, who opposes Makinen in this Democratic Primary. Makinen is running for this office after being appointed to it by by Judge Charles Goodman in March, 2009. State law requires that Makinen run for election to the position in the first general election following his appointment. No Republicans are running for this position.*

Click here to see the Houghton County Democrats' list of Democratic candidates listed on the ballot for the Primary Election TOMORROW, Tuesday, Aug. 3. The list includes links to the candidates' Web sites.

See also our June 11 Keweenaw Now article on gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero, whom we interviewed during his visit to Houghton on June 5, 2010.

*Read more about Pamela Dobbs in a July 21 Daily Mining Gazette article.

You can obtain a sample ballot by clicking here.